Standort: / Meldung: "The largest gathering of humanity in the world"

Kate Farmer

Cutting to the chase

14. 1. 2013 - 15:14

The largest gathering of humanity in the world

Reality Check: India's Kumbh Mela, Military service in Europe, France intervenes in Mali, Whistleblowing hotline, Aaron Swartz obituary.

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The Hindu Kumbh Mela lasts 55 days and attracts up to 100 million people

Catherine Zeta-Jones can't wait to get there, and she'll probably take hubby Michael Douglas along too - but for anyone who doesn't like crowds, the Indian festival of Kumbh Mela is one to miss.

Maybe it's my inner agrophobe (I get twitchy on a crowded U-Bahn station) but the idea of up to a hundred million people heading to the confluence of two rivers to bathe in the waters and wash their sins away evokes pure horror and panic. However, that's just me. Ms Zeta Jones and a hundred million others can't all be wrong.

Described as the largest gathering of humanity in the world, the Indian Kumbh Mela festival is held every 12 years. However you feel about crowds, you can't help but be impressed by the organisation that enables the 55 day festival, held on 20 square kilometres of land, to receive up to 100 million people and to go off without major incident.

Figures like 30,000 police, 40,000 toilets, 80 million litres of water and 250 doctors sound gargantuan - but when you divide them back through the number of pilgrims, it's clear that the organisation has its work cut out .

It's a highly spiritual event, steeped in mythology, tradition and religious ritual. One highlight is the procession of sadhus, Hindu holy men, who march through the area accompanied by elephants, horses and music. Some of them are clad in saffron robes, while some are completely naked, their bodies smeared in ash.



The ritual bathing of sadhus is a highlight of the festival

Geeta Pandy reports from the centre of the festival at the meeting of the rivers - the Sangam - on the mood and the extraordinary spectacle that is the Kumbh Mela.

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France's military intervention in Mali

France begins what is says will be a "short" military intervention in Mali to support the government against Islamist rebels.

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Military service across the EU

Ahead of the referendum on military service on Sunday, Heinz Gärtner of the Austrian Institute for International Politics looks at policies on military service around the EU.

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Whisteblowing hotline

Walter Gehr of comments on proposals by Justice Minister Beatrix Karl for an anonymous whistleblowing hotline to combat corruption.

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Death of Aaron Swartz

A look back at the short but remarkable life and achievements of Internet activist, Aaron Swartz, who died on Friday.

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